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THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
A FOOTNOTE TO SECESSION HISTORY
By a. Macwhirter.
Future students of Scottish denominational history may find themselves
perplexed by entries in Scottish directories and almanacs published after
the year 1842 of a few congregations mainly in Edinburgh, listed as
“ Original Secession Church — not in connection with the Synod.” The
purpose of this paper is to account for the existence of these, and to
trace their history which brings to light many remarkable features in the
realm of presbyterial government in the absence of a presbytery, division,
and loyalty to testimony and principles to a degree unthought of amongst
present day Churchmen.
In his excellent book Annals and Statistics of the Original Secession
Church (1886) Rev. D. Scott very briefly mentions the movement which
forms the subject of this paper. He limits himself, however, to its in-
ception, while it is now proposed to deal more with its subsequent
history. Full use has been made of Mr. Scott’s list of authorities on the
subject ; which he contented himself with recording, making no effort
to reproduce their contents. Rev. D. Scott was connected in his early
days with Lauriston Street O.S. Church, Edinburgh, which may account
for a number of references in his book to that congregation and its
ministers. I have traced a number of other publications of dates prior
to the Annals ; and several which appeared later. As most of those
connected with the different sections into which the last Anti-Burghers
split have now passed away, the writer felt that the time had come to
collect from the last survivors as much information as possible, and to
commit the result to paper. Moreover, many of the publications are
now very rare, and as time goes on will become more so. Research has
unearthed copies of nearly all the printed papers ; unfortunately, in
practically no case was access to written records secured.
To members of this Society familiar with the family tree of Secession
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
History, no explanation of the term “Anti-Burger” should be necessary.
For the sake of completeness, however, I will briefly recall the origin of
the tenu, and of the groups known respectively as Burgher and Anti-
It will be recalled that the Secession from the Church of Scotland
took place in the year 1733, and that the Secession Synod (or Associate
Synod as it was officially known) had, at its meeting in 1745 a question
raised which was, two years later, to arrest much of its promise by dividing
the membership, after wordy duel and acrimonious dispute.
The question agitating the Synod arose out of the Burgess Oath
exacted in the towns of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth, where applicants
for enrolment as Burgesses were required inter alia to declare : —
Here I protest before God and your Lordships, that I profess and
allow with my heart the true religion presently professed
within this realm and authorised by the laws thereof. I shall
abide thereat, and defend the same to my life’s end, renouncing
the Roman religion called Papistry.
The dispute in the Secession Synod hinged round the interpretation of
“The True Religion presently professed within this Realm.” Did the
clause carry with it the approval of the existing Establishment with all its
doctrinal errors and violations of Constitution ; or did it simply bind the
person taking the oath to an approval of the true religion without com-
mitting him to an approval of the particular manner in which it was
professed in Scotland ?
The question directly concerned but a few Seceders in the cities
mentioned, and none at all outside these towns. The Party having no
profound objection to the oath were popularly called Burghers ; the
objectors were known as Anti-Burghers. The question finally split the
Associate Synod into two different bodies in April, 1747, both claiming the
name, “Associate Synod” ; to the public, however, they remained
“ Burghers ” and “Anti-Burghers.”
It is not necessary for the purposes of this paper to give any detailed
account of the subsequent divisions which took place in both Synods
mainly on the question of the duties of the civil magistrate in matters of
religion. But in 1820, when the two larger bodies of the “New Lights ”
among the Burghers and Anti-Burghers had united in the United Secession
Church, three smaller groups remained, two of them Anti-Burgher
and one Burgher. In 1827 the two Anti-Burgher groups, i.e., the Synod of
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
Protestors and The Constitutional Associate Presbytery united to form
the Associate Synod of Original Seceders. Twelve years later in 1839 the
Burgher group decided by a majority to attach their congregations
to the Church of Scotland Presbyteries within whose bounds they were
situated, but a small minority of ministers and congregations continued
the existence of the body. From 1839 till 1842 this remnant Synod was
engaged in negotiating a Union with the Associate Synod of Original
Seceders. Such a course had been foreshadowed by conferences previously
engaged in by these Synods or their predecessors first, for several years
prior to 1820, and secondly in 1832, but the old question of the Burgess
Oath proved a stumbling block in the way of the projected union on each
occasion, as a strong conservative party on the Anti-Burgher side insisted
that the Burghers should acknowledge plainly the sinfulness of Seceders
swearing the Burgess Oath, a concession which the Burgher side declined
to make. The Burgess Oath had been a dead letter for years and had been
completely abolished as far back as 1819. (Act of 3rd and 4th William
IV, cap. 76/36.)
In September 1841, a basis of union was prepared and was published
early the following year. This included resolutions concerning the Burgess
Oath, Communion, Practical Religion and Covenanting. It was agreed
further by the Synod of Original Seceders that if the Negotiation with the
Original Burghers should be successful and a union effected, the question
in the Formula regarding the Burgess Oath should be dropped.
On 12th January, 1842, when the Original Secession Synod finally
agreed to unite with the remnant Burgher Synod on this published basis.
Rev. James Wright, of Infirmary Street Church, Edinburgh, and Rev.
Andrew Lambie, Pitcairngreen, entered their dissent ; and on 17th May
following they left the Synod, declined its authority, and thereafter
constituted themselves along with William Snodgrass, Ruling Elder from
Mr. Wright’s congregation, “ The Associate Presbytery of Original
Seceders.”* Both ministers published addresses to their congregations
on the matter.2 Mr. Wright’s runs to seventeen very closely printed pages,
and commences with a full history of the Burgess Oath controversy in
which he says : ‘ ‘ The case stands thus : On the one hand the Testimony
of Original Seceders rests on the decision, which pointedly condemns the
swearing of this oath, as both sinful and at variance with our covenants ;
on the other hand the Burghers . . . solemnly declare, ‘ They will rather
1 Annals and Statistics of the Original Secession Church (Scott), i886.
» “Address to the Associate Congregation, Infirmary Street, on The Projected
Union,” by Rev. James Wright, Edinburgh, 1842.
“Address to the Associate Congregation of Pitcairngreen,” by Rev. Andrew
Lambie, Perth, 1842.
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
perish as a body ’ than subscribe to such a condemnation. The plain
question then is, can the Testimony of the Original Seceders be the same
in the united body, and with the articles inserted in it, as it is now — has
it not, as interpreted by these articles, undergone an essential and material
change ? And how can these two parties unite by solemnly swearing
the Covenants on such terms ? There have seldom, if indeed ever, in the
history of religious Unions been such ‘ Italian and Roman Stratagems ’
... It has been urged by those who had paid little or no attention to
this controversy that the abolition of the Burgess Oath by the legislature
sets at rest the whole question — no mistake can be greater than this.”
The Pamphlet by Rev. Andrew Lambie of Pitcairngreen is less ambitious
and in his the appeal is more to Scriptural authority.
The Declinature read and given in by Messrs. Lambie and Wright to
the Associate Synod of Original Seceders was a document of some length
and is printed in full in Mr. Scott’s Annals and Statistics and, stated very
briefly, it claimed that the Associate S5mod of Original Seceders, by agree-
ing to the articles as exhibiting their plan of union with the Synod of
Original Burghers had materially dropt the whole Secession Testimony.
Mr. Wright’s decision to withdraw from the Associate Synod of Original
Seceders caused a breach in his congregation which occurred on 4th
April, 1842, a minority including two elders deciding to adhere to their
former S5mod ; this section, after meeting in the School of Arts, Adam
Square, and in the Merchants’ Hall, Hunter Square, built a church in
Adam Square, and called Rev. Archd. Brown to be their minister. The
majority, however, remained with Mr. Wright, and no breach seems to
have occurred in Mr. Lambie’s congregation at Pitcairngreen.
A third congregation was that of Dundee, an off-shoot of the Constitu-
tional Church in that town. Apparently the Associate Presbytery’s
s5nnpathisers there were congregated from the breach, as the Presbytery
met at Dundee as early as 22nd December, 1842, for an ‘‘Act of Public
Fast ” was published there on that date.
It is possible that had other ministers supported Messrs. Lambie and
Wright (‘‘The Two Witnesses” as they were popularly called) further
congregations might have been formed, as a paragraph in Faiths of the
World, a voluminous dictionary of religions and sects by Rev. James
Gardner (A. FuUarton & Co.), published about 1855, stated, ‘‘ One con-
gregation of Original Seceders in Edinburgh, under the ministry of Rev.
James Wright, with not a few adherents in various parts of the country,
disclaims all connection with those who adhere to the Testimony of 1842
claiming in the principles they avow to represent the First Seceders.”
Very extensive enquiry on my part has failed to disclose the where-
abouts (if still existing) of the written records of this Presbytery — with
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
one notable exception to be later referred to and which throws light on
the Court’s ultimate fate.
Various printed “Acts” and “Reasons for Fasts” were published by
the Presbytery during the brief course of its existence. One of these in
my possession, “Address by the Associate Presbytery of Original Seceders
to the people under their inspection,” dated from Dundee, November ii,
1844, is of ten pages and is signed by Mr. Wright as Presbytery Clerk.
Coming shortly after the Disruption, a portion of this is taken up with
criticism of the Free Church Assembly decision of that year, “That they
had come to the conclusion, that it was not expedient for the Church to
issue a Testimony at all.” It also states, “ With regard to the Synod
with which we were lately connected, it is to be considered that that
Synod cannot be viewed as any longer existing.” Other printed causes of
fasting dated December 1S47 and December 1848 appeared.
In dealing with the congregations under the inspection of the Presby-
tery, I shall place them in this order — Dundee, Pitcairngreen, Edinburgh
The little Dundee congregation met in Peter Street Hall and had one
elder in the person of Mr. John Jack, Harbourmaster. * Mr. Scott tells us
they first were supplied by Mr. Thomas Callander, a Probationer, who
joined the Secession from another denomination in 1833, became Town
Missionary at Ayr, and adhered to Messrs. Wright and Lambie at the
breach nine years later. His stay here was apparently short, and he
afterwards joined the Baptist denomination.
The little company was greatly distressed for lack of money ; as on
8th February, 1847, ^ meeting of the Session of Lauriston Street Church,
Edinburgh, on the laying before the meeting by the Moderator of a com-
munication from “ our brethren at Dundee,” it was agreed that a public
collection be made on their behalf. A similar request was mentioned at a
meeting of the Lauriston Street Session on 20th September following, and
was “ meantime deferred,” although the following month a collection for
their assistance was taken up at Pitcairngreen. In 1848 the congregation
was under the charge of the Rev. David Berry, but it is not clear whether
he was ordained over this congregation or at large, as witness an extract
from “ The Scottish Presbyterian ” of date June 1850 when in reference
1 Minutes, Reformed Presbytery of Edinburgh.
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
to Mr. Berry it is stated, ‘ ‘ He was ordained to the holy ministry, and
laboured in Dundee, although not as the pastor of the people to whom he
ministered there.” Mr. Berry received his theological instruction from
Mr. Wright, and I am afraid the late Dr. Couper erred in associating him
with the O.S. Synod. Apparently the financial position did not improve
with the introduction of Mr. Berry to the pulpit, for on 6th May, 1849,
we again learn that at a meeting of the Session of Lauriston Street Church
the Moderator stated that at the recent meeting of Presbytery, it was
agreed that aid be given at present to our brethren at Dundee, in the way
of a collection on Sabbath next.
Meanwhile, at Dundee, things had taken a new turn for on i8th July,
1849, we learn from a minute of the Reformed Presbytery of Edinburgh
that ‘ ' Rev. David Berry, minister of the congregation of Original Seceders
in Dundee, and Mr. John Jack, ruling elder, appeared before the Presby-
tery as representatives appointed by the congregation and laid on the
table an Application and Petition from the minister and congregation
expressing approbation of the principles of the Reformed Presbyterian
Church — requesting admission into her communion — and stating that they
had already intimated their resignation of connection with the Associate
Presbytery of Original Seceders.” The Presbytery felt gratified by the
tenor of the application and a committee was appointed to prepare the
case for the consideration of a future meeting of Presbytery. Four days
later at a meeting of Lauriston Street Session it was minuted that “ as
the Moderator — Rev. James Wright — purposed going at this time to
assist at the Sacramental occasion at Pitcairngreen, a conversation took
place, as to his calling upon the members of the Dundee Congregation
previously ... to converse with them, it being reported that they proposed
casting off their public profession in adhering to the Testimony of another
church.” This visit on 31st July, 1849, to the representatives of the people
at Dundee took the form of a meeting of Presbytery, at which Rev.
David Berry and Mr. Jack were present, and was an historic one in the
Court’s history, as out of it arose the incident which led to the separation
of Mr. Lambie from Mr. Wright, a full account of which will be given
when we deal with the congregation of Pitcairngreen. Through the
diligence of Mr. John MacLeod, Session Clerk at Lauriston Street Church,
I have a copy of the Minute of Presbytery of this important occasion,
which has been extracted from the Minutes of Session of date 20th August,
1849 ; where it was engrossed to lie in retentis.
“ Draft of Minutes taken at Dundee.
” 31st July, 1849. The Associate Presbytery of Original
Seceders met and was constituted by Mr. James Wright, Modera-
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
tor. Mr. Berry being present and required to make any statement
he wished said, in explaining the resignation, that it was want of
money that led him and the people to enquire into Cameronianism,
and besides the ill usage of brethren in not giving them pecuniary
aid, and that upon examining 'Cameronianism' he was convinced
that he was not leaving the cause he had hitherto held in joining
the Cameronians, quoting proof from page 55 of the Testimony,
First Edition, where mention is made of others professing the same
adherence to the Standards of the Church of Scotland, and the same
regard to the Reformation as themselves, and that it is to be desired
that a dispassionate examination of the really subsisting grounds
of difference should lead to their co-operating in the advancement
of the common cause. The weakness and unfairness of this being
pointed out on his being asked to explain the above statement in
accordance with the nth Question of the Formula, which bound
him as a Seceder to oppose Cameronianism, he failed to give
anything like satisfaction.
" On Mr. Jack asking leave to give his mind, which was
readily granted, he proceeded freely to admit that it was the want
of money, and ill usage by some Deacons in Edinburgh Congrega-
tion in not granting immediate pecuniary supply to a petition to
that effect, and that had that petition been answered at the time
by money, instead of the written promise sent to them, ‘That when
some pressing Congregational arrangements were concluded they
would convey them from £10 to £15' — the present step would not
have been taken.
“ The Presbytery were sorry to hear Mr. Berry and Mr. Jack
contradict themselves, in at one time saying, both Associations
held the same cause, and at another arguing on behalf of views
held in Nairn’s Reasons of Dissent, and besides this they contra-
dicted each other. John Jack said they owned the present Govern-
ment (civil) in all lawful commands, and when it was stated that
that is Secederism, he replied that he would carry these Seceder
views into the Cameronian body, which statement of owning the
present Civil Government being opposed by Mr. Berry, he was
asked to explain what Cameronianism was, to which he replied,
he did not come here to be examined.”
The Dundee congregation were not to be diverted from their change
of front by this examination, and on 26th September, 1849, they were
visited by the Committee of the Reformed Presbytery of Edinburgh who
entered into a lengthy conversation with Mr. Berry and eight of his
congregation — an indication of their fewness — when the Committee were
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
much satisfied with the answers given and the views expressed by these
individuals. The Presbytery accordingly agreed on 3rd October following
to accept the congregation into the Reformed Presbyterian Church. *
As there was already in existence a small Reformed Presbyterian
Church in Dundee, which, however, was in a state of severe financial
embarrassment, it was agreed that they cease to meet as a congregation
and individually become members of Mr. Berry’s congregation. At the
same meeting the Clerk reported that he had written Rev. Mr. Lambie of
Pitcairngreen, Clerk to the Associate Presbytery, requesting a statement
of Mr. Berry’s licence, ordination, and ministerial standing ; and that no
answer had been received ; an indication of Mr. Lambie’s disownment
of the Presbytery, as will be fully recounted in the next chapter. Mr.
Berry, however, laid on the table printed Causes of Fasting, dated 1847
and 1848 in which his name appeared as Clerk of Presbytery, and attesta-
tions of his licence and ordination by elders and others who had been
present when these transactions took place.
On 9th May, 1850, the Reformed Presbyterian Synod, after hearing
the report of a Committee appointed to converse with Mr. Berry, recom-
mended that Mr. Berry be received as an ordained minister, and that he
be placed on the list of probationers. Two days later the Presbytery of
Edinburgh received him into the Church in terms of the above recom-
The Associate (Anti-Burgher) Congregation of Dundee, after its union
with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, passed into the Free Church in
1876, United Free Church in igoo, and Church of Scotland in 1929. It is
now known as Martyrs’ Church of Scotland.
Mr. Berry later held charges in the Reformed Presbyterian Synod at
Wick, and in the Free Church of Scotland at Graham Street, Airdrie.
He died in London on 2nd April, 1887.^ His son, David Anderson Berry,
who greatly distinguished himself in the medical world, instituted a
“ David Berry Trust” in memory of his father, which is administered
by the Royal Historical Society, London, and substantial prizes are at
present being offered by them for a paper on Scottish History.
The congregation to which Rev. Andrew Lambie ministered originated
1 Minutes, Reformed Presbytery of Edinburgh.
2 Minutes, Reformed Presb3rtery of Edinburgh.
* The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland (W. J. Couper), 1925.
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
on 27th June, 1797, when 62 members of the North Church, Perth (Anti-
Burgher) petitioned to be disjoined for the formation of a new congrega-
tion. The reason behind this demand was the erection of public works
in the locality, which is within the parish of Redgorton and 4J miles
from Perth. It remains to-day a peaceful and picturesque village, and, at
the time of the erection of the Anti-Burgher Church in 1798, a Burgher
Church was also being completed within a few hundred yards. The
Anti-Burgher Church was erected to seat 300, and was situated beside
the manse, which still stands, being the only two-storeyed house on the side
of the village facing the road to Perth. The earlier ministers were :
(i) John Brown, Ordained 25th June, 1800 ; the Presbytery Minute of
whose ordination is the first minute in the “Session Book belonging to the
Associate Anti-Burgher congregation, Pitcairngreen.” Deposed 8th
September, 1802 ; (2) William Beath, Ordained ist November, 1803.
Together with his congregation he joined the Synod of Protestors in 1820.
Died in Edinburgh, 22nd May, 1827, after a stroke the previous day,
which first manifested itself while he was preaching in Professor Paxton’s
Church, Infirmary Street, Edinburgh — a circumstance interesting on
account of the later connection between Pitcairngreen and Infirmary
Mr. Lambie, who came from Auchinleck, was ordained as Mr. Death’s
successor on 29th April, 1829. In 1838, Dr. Small tells us, the communi-
cants were above 120, and the ordinary income between £yo and £80 a
year. Following the formation of the Associate Presbytery by Messrs.
Wright, Snodgrass and Lambie in 1842, Mr. Lambie returned to Pitcairn-
green, and at a meeting of his Session, held on 25th June, they agreed
“ to adhere to the testimony and the Formula as they stand without the
alteration made by the Synod of the Original Seceders in the late union
with the Burgher Synod.’’* Later that year it was agreed that Andrew
Young, a former elder of the Perth Original Secession Church, but “now
with us” should become a member of Session. In 1844, Janet Miller
applied for admission, but her case was delayed until she had read all the
testimony. Janet apparently did so, for the following year she was duly
admitted. On 3rd March, 1846, a member, “who had left at the union
of 1842,” applied for re-admission. It was decided she be admitted, but,
“we should be on the watch lest it be understood we would admit those
who were as well pleased with the testimony in its altered state as in its
On 2nd June, 1846, a conversation took place regarding the duty of
covenanting : this led to the solemn renewal of the Covenants of our
1 " Session Book Belonging to the Associate Anti-Burgher Congregation.
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
Ancestors which was proceeded with in the usual form at Pitcairngreen
on 23rd July, 1846. Those present included Revs. Lambie and Wright ;
Mr. David Berry, Preacher ; John Jack, Elder, Dundee ; and Thomas
Brown, Elder, Edinburgh. The bond was also subscribed by eight men
and twenty women ; showing the decline which had been in progress in
the congregation since their withdrawal from the Synod. A gazeteer
issued about 1850 gives the average attendance as twenty-five.
On 20th January, 1850, Mr. Lambie publicly intimated his withdraw-
ment from intercourse and correspondence with Rev. Mr. Wright of
Edinburgh.! As this marked the end of the last Presbytery of Anti-
Burghers, properly constituted, the facts of the separation may be given
at some length from Mr. Lambie’s pamphlet, “Address to the Associate
Congregation of Original Seceders at Pitcairngreen showing the reason of
withdrawment from Communion with the Rev. James Wright, Edinburgh”
(Perth : Charles Paton, 1851).
From this publication it appears that prior to the meeting of Presby-
tery at Dundee, when Rev. David Berry and the Dundee elder were inter-
viewed regarding their withdrawal, the Dundee congregation had intimated
to the Clerk that “Owing to the state of their funds, the extinction of all
hope of being able to go on in their present position, they resign connection
with the Presbytery.” Mr. Berry, at the same time, wrote that he was
leaving the Presbytery for “Reasons similar, as well as being desirous of
continuing in the exercise of the ministerial office with which he had been
invested.” At the meeting of Presbytery in question held at Dundee,
Mr. Berry complained that a representation had gone abroad that he
and the people at Dundee had left owing to the state of their funds which
he denied, but admitted that it was the state of the funds or want of
money which led him to inquire into the principles of the body to which
he looked, and he represented himself as being influenced in part to take
the step from the views that resulted from this inquiry. Mr. Wright,
apparently, resisted his first assertion insisting that it was want of funds,
and regard to certain occurrences, rather than considerations of principle,
that might be judged to have influenced him.
Mr. Lambie, as Clerk, minuted and read Mr. Berry’s statement. But
in a minute drawn up in preference to the Clerk’s draft, Mr. Berry’s denial
of want of money being the proper reason was omitted, and to this Mr.
At the next meeting of Presbytery held in October there was put into
the minutes a judicial declaration concerning Mr. Berry that he had
“acknowledged that he took the step under the influence of pecuniary
1 “ Session Book Belonging to the Associate Anti-Burgher Congregation.
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
considerations;” to this Mr. Lambie signified uncertainty as to whether
it was correctly expressed, but did not press his difficulty. He next Sab-
bath intimated, ‘‘according to a regulation of the Reformed Church of
Scotland,” the Deed of Presbytery, which declared Mr. Berry not in
visible fellowship with the Church of Christ, and “stated something like
what was in the deed represented as an aggravation of the offence; this
was because he considered there was something relating to money in the
reasons, offensive and aggravating, as was generally judged among us.”
Soon after the meeting of Presbytery Mr. Berry received notice of the
deed, and straightway instructed Mr. Lambie, as Clerk of the Presbytery,
to inform those concerned he had resolved to see what redress could be
had by law if this clause were not erased from the minutes, and requesting
an answer within three weeks. Mr. Lambie, on re-examining the minute,
felt it to be unfairly expressed, and wrote to Mr. Wright suggesting an
alteration. On the same day, however, he received from Mr. Wright an
open letter, written with the concurrence of elders, addressed to Mr.
Berry, assuring him that “we must appear in our defence at any civil
bar whether he may be pleased to drag us,” which Mr. Lambie was desired
to sign as clerk ; this, however, he could “ by no means do.”
A meeting of Presbytery was called for Edinburgh the following week
on account of Mr. Lambie’s dissatisfaction, when he proposed that some-
thing be substituted for the offending words of the clause.
Three days of intense disagreement ensued between the two ministerial
members of the Court, while the only elder present apparently did his
best to effect a compromise agreeable to both. Motion and counter-
motion were made to amend the clause of the Deed complained of, or to
explain it in the manner of altering the statement that Mr. Berry had
retired from the Presbytery for pecuniary reasons. As illustrative of the
warmth of the discussions it is recorded that on the first two days no prayer
was offered at the close of the sederunts. Finally, an explanatory motion
was adopted in relation to Mr. Berry’s explanation, as was a motion
agreeing that all record of the dispute be taken from the minutes, and it
was agreed to send a copy of the former motion to Mr. Berry.
On afterwards reflecting, Mr. Lambie felt that the Presbytery was
involved in something of a scandal “as deliberately owning, when brought
under review, what was really a misrepresentation.” To quote Mr.
Lambie’s pamphlet : “ An important question then with the writer was,
how could he clear himself ecclesiastically ? Had he been alone implicated
he could have been cleared by personally condemning the procedure ;
but the brother by whom chiefly he had been thus implicated being in
the same reproach, he would have been implicated stUl as long as the
brother was not cleared. To aim at personally persuading Mr. Wright
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
still seemed preposterous. . . . Nothing appeared left, in duty to any
party, but to withdraw.”
In a number of minor grievances Mr. Lambie held towards Mr. Wright
which are given vent to in his pamphlet, it is interesting to learn that in
the spring of 1849 the two ministers had quarrelled over the question
of lifting the bread before setting it apart from a common to a holy use
in the Lord’s Supper, which quarrel had led to Mr. Wright’s refusing to
assist at the Pitcairngreen Sacrament, calling the matter in dispute a
“ question about meats.” This was, of course, the same point as resulted
in the forming of the ” Lifter ” Presbytery composed of Seceders from
the Anti-Burghers 67 years earlier.
Mr. Wright made a number of efforts to persuade Mr. Lambie to return
to the Presbytery. He offered, if Mr. Lambie’s conscience was aggrieved
about it, to strike the clause out for ever. Later, he, as Moderator of
Presbytery, called a meeting for Pitcairngreen, but Mr. Lambie wrote in
reply that he could not acknowledge his right to do so. Mr. Wright,
however, came to Pitcairngreen in March 1850 to endeavour to heal the
breach, when he found that two members of Mr. Lambie’s Session made
common cause with him on the matter of the dispute. Some trouble had
been experienced in the latter Court during the early part of that month,
when Mr. Lambie, as admitted in his pamphlet, on one occasion refused
to constitute the Session when requested, and on another occasion at a
meeting of the Court refused to put a series of questions bearing on the
heahng of his dispute with Mr. Wright.
This difference between Mr. Lambie and his Session culminated at a
Sacramental Fast Day, 7th March, 1850, when the minister having consti-
tuted the session with prayer for the distribution of tokens, an elder instead
of coming forward to take his place agreeable to the end of the meeting
read a ‘‘Protest against the Lord’s Supper being dispensed because aU
the members of the Presbytery had acknowledged and did still acknowledge
that they were at one in the public profession, they therefore should not
this day be divided.” The paper was signed by two elders and a large
proportion of the congregation.
Thereafter Mr. Wright and the disaffected elders made one further
effort at conciliation, but without avail, and the ministers held no further
intercourse during the remainder of their lives. In the writings of Dr.
Small and Rev. Mr. Scott, Mr. Wright is shown as the stronger influence
who persuaded Mr. Lambie in their religious transactions ; from particu-
lars above given, however, and from Mr. Lambie’s subsequent history, he
appears to have been, while undoubtedly sincere, a man with a distinctly
individualistic outlook on matters of church policy. His separation from
Mr. Wright was probably the outcome of a long gathering spirit of dis-
agreement on both sides.
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
Pitcairngreen congregation apparently lost a fair proportion of mem-
bers at this time, and when the session next met on Monday, ist April,
only one elder, James Clark, took his seat with the Moderator. Another
elder was shortly afterwards ordained.
There is evidence that the congregation was now being sued for debts
due to some of their former brethren; and on the last Sabbath in October,
1853, Public Worship was held in the Church for the last time ; the
building was soon afterwards removed, the stones being used to erect a
number of cottages still forming part of the village.
Mr. Lambie now left for Glasgow where for a period of seven years
he acted as a private teacher of English at 29 Cumberland Street, residing
in turn at St. Vincent Street, Abbotsford Place, Crown Street, and Warwick
Street. There is no evidence of his having preached while in Glasgow.
During this period Mr. Lambie visited his former flock quarterly,
when services were conducted in Almondbank School House. In 1861,
however, he became persuaded that he should not have left the former
congregation, and also expressed his regret for "having taken part at
length in disposing of the property which had been set apart for the public
cause of God in this place.” He, therefore, returned to his people, and on
the last Sabbath of May, 1861, pubhc worship was recommenced at
Ruthven Castle, and was continued regularly thereafter until 25th May,
1862, when the congregation removed to a combined Church and School
House which Mr. Lambie had purchased and extended at Bridgeton of
Almondbank. One elder remained of the former Session, and met with
Mr. Lambie when the Session was constituted on 8th July, 1861 — the
first time since October, 1853. ‘
Mr. Lambie and his daughter now commenced a school which met in
the new premises, the minister teaching the boys and his daughter the
girls. Tributes have been paid to the minister’s efficiency in this capacity,
and his dual role of minister and dominie is also recalled in the local rhyme
still current ;
The minister, the dominie, and Mr. Andrew Lamb
Went to pull pears where three pears hang.
Each pulled a pear.
Yet two still were there.
The significance, of course, being that the minister, the dominie and Mr.
Andrew Lamb were one and the same person.
On 6th September, 1870, the Session met and agreed that it be re-
corded in the minutes "That this Associate Session of a Remnant of
Original Seceders was constituted on ist April, 1850, and continues to be
1 “ Session Book Belonging to the Associate Anti-Burgher Congregation,
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
constituted in a way of testifying against making light of untruthfulness
in a clause of an Act of the Associate Presbytery of Original Seceders
passed in October, 1849.”
At the same meeting it was agreed that the congregation renew our
National vows, and this was proceeded with at Bridgeton on 9th March,
1871, when the Bond for renewing our Solemn Covenants adopted by the
Associate Synod of Original Seceders in 1828 was renewed and subscribed
by the minister, an elder, and eleven women.
About this time, Mr. Lambie published a document remarkable as
coming from one who had objected to any altering of the testimony at
the Union of 1842. This was an “Appendix” to the Testimony of 1827
“Shewing the manner in which the Testimony emitted by the Associate
Synod of Original Seceders is held in more agreeableness to its title-page
by the Remnant of Original Seceders.” This appendix was “Agreed on by
the Associate Session of Bridgeton (Almondbank),” and the publication was,
apparently, advertised in the press with a statement that the “Appendix”
was “ Not properly an addition to the Testimony,” a somewhat am-
biguous statement when it is considered that persons subsequently apply-
ing for admission to the Almondbank communion had to state their
acceptance of the Testimony of 1827 in the manner stated in the Appendix,
which contains a few pages of suggested amendments to the original
wording of the “ Testimony.”
A new and surprising development was now impending in Mr. Lambie ’s
career, for early in 1874 he received an invitation to go as Minister in
charge of a party who had seceded from Rev. J. Wright’s ministry in
Edinburgh ; whither he removed apparently in the latter part of that year.
On loth May, 1874, it had been declared from the Almondbank pulpit
that the Session at that place was now in Communion with the Associate
Session of the Congregation presently meeting at Forrest Road, Edin-
burgh, both holding the Testimony in the manner stated in the Appendix ;
and on 23rd November, 1875, a day of Thanksgiving was observed by the
congregation particularly on this account.
After his removal to Edinburgh, Mr. Lambie visited Almondbank for
some eight weeks every summer, as well as on occasional dates throughout
the year. For the edification of the congregation there he posted a
sermon to them weekly during his absence which was read to his adher-
ents by an elder.
On 12th July, 1876, a new elder, David Henry, was elected by the
Session “ With the understood consent of the other members of the
On 26th July, 1879, the Almondbank Session was constituted by Mr.
Andrew Lambie when Charles Martin of the Forrest Road, Edinburgh,
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
congregation took part with him, and on account of “ David Henry, the
elder in this place, having gone aside with the party at Edinburgh ”
whom Mr. Lambie had left on 22nd April, 1879, it was agreed to hold a
meeting of the congregation to elect an elder and two deacons. George
Henry was elected Elder and John McEwan and Alexander Robertson
were elected Deacons, and all were Ordained to office at Forrest Road,
Edinburgh, on 23rd October, 1879. It may be said that the elder and
members who “went aside” at this time became connected with the
United Original Secession congregation at Perth.
The last time Mr. Lambie ministered at Pitcaimgreen was when he
conducted a Communion Service at New Year, 1886. After his death on
23rd May following, sermons were read to the remaining members by
Alexander Galletly Robertson, except for two summer months annually,
until 1898, when they were read by Mr. Charles Martin of Forrest Road
Congregation, Edinburgh. The attendance varied in the last years from
9 to 22, dependent on the season : a lady then in attendance writes : —
‘ ‘ My father and mother and eight of a family (all ages, pram too) walked
from Perth (4J miles) every Sunday winter and summer. I never heard
any disturbance caused by the young ones in the church even although
they were only babies, and my father used to say we never got a cold
even although we walked through snow all the way. Our Perth neigh-
bours were amused that there was not a church in Perth good enough for
us, and no doubt we thought we were the only right ones. My father
never entered another church after joining Mr. Lambie’s in 1871 till his
death in 1912. He was a staunch Seceder.”
The meeting house was finally closed in 1906 owing to the death at
the age of 83 of Sarah Galletly, the Beadle, who had first entered Mr.
Lambie’s service as a maid in 1843. She was a “Worthy” and is said to
play a part in S. R. Crockett’s story, “ The Lilac Sunbonnet.” She is
buried in the same grave as Mr. Lambie in Redgorton Churchyard.
Mr. Lambie’s memory I find still fresh and greatly respected in Pit-
caimgreen. He is said to have wandered much in the district lost in
meditation, and Dr. Small tells of seeing him at the window of his humble
manse — which was part of the school-cum-church, ‘ ‘ Bending over a book
which my friend suggested was probably the Hebrew Bible — his close
companion.” The httle church still stands, having been converted to a
The token of this congregation reads : —
“ Pitcaimgreen ” and on the reverse : —
“ Mr. Lambie
After the dispute between Mr. Lambie and the Forrest Road, Edin-
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
burgh, congregation in 1879, Rev. William Scott of Edinburgh preached
occasionally to his supporters at Pitcaimgreen until as late as 1892 ; he
also conducted at least one marriage ceremony in that place.
The third and largest congregation forming the Associate (Anti-
Burgher) Presbytery in 1842 was that in Infirmary Street, Edinburgh.
This congregation emerged as a result of the union in 1820 between the
Associate (Burgher) and General Associate (Anti-Burgher) New Light
Synods, when sixteen protesting members of various congregations invited
Rev. George Paxton, Professor of Theology to the latter Synod, to preach
and take them under his pastoral care. This he did, the first place of
meeting, which was rented, being the former Gaelic Chapel in Castle
W5md, but later there was built a Church in Infittmary Street to seat 980
which accommodation was frequently overtaxed owing to the reputation
of the Professor as a Preacher. The union of the Constitutional Presbytery
and the Synod of Protestors was consummated within its walls in 1827,
and the testimony of the united body so formed approved, to which this
congregation has continued to adhere until to-day.
On 8th July, 1834, Rev. James Wright, of Coupar Angus, was elected
Colleague and Successor to Professor Paxton. The call was signed by 385
members and 68 adherents, indicative of the strength of Infirmary Street
Church at this time. Professor Paxton died on 9th April, 1837,
buried in St. Cuthbert’s Churchyard.
As previously stated the vast majority of the congregation remained
with Mr. Wright at the breach in 1842 and Infirmary Street church was
sold the following year, that of the Disruption, to the Free Church Tolbooth
Congregation. After a period of worship in the Free Masons’ Hall, Niddry
Street, they removed in Autumn, 1844, to their present Church in Lauriston
Street, built that year to seat seven hundred. By the title deeds, this
building is secured to the members who adhere to and maintain the
Testimony of 1827.*
In 1845, Covenant Renovation was engaged in under Messrs. Wright
and Lambie when no members subscribed the bond. 2
During the seven years following their retiral from the Synod, i.e.,
until 1849, Messrs. Wright and Lambie assisted each other at Communion
Seasons. After Mr. Lambie’s withdrawal, Mr. Wright and his successor
1 Annals and Statistics (Scott).
2 Lauriston Street Session Records.
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
conducted these arduous times of Fast Day, Preparatory, Action and
Thanksgiving Services single handed.
From Mr. Lambie’s withdrawal, it may here be stated, Mr. Wright
declined to admit the extinction of the Associate Presbytery and continued
to appoint an elder to act with him in a Presbyterial capacity, and this
custom was continued by the Rev. Walter McLeod. This is the body
referred to as the “Associate Presbytery” in the remainder of the current
In the winter months each year, commencing in 1850, Mr. Wright
delivered his courses of Sabbath evening lectures on Prophetic Subjects.
Being an excellent Orator and employing dramatic gesture these attracted
crowds which filled Lauriston Street Church. The lectures were later
published in book form, and received favourable notices from the press of
In addition, for eight years, from December 1857, Mr. Wright published
a small monthly periodical. The Ark, which will amply repay study
to-day to such as are interested in the cause of the Second Reformation,
as well as providing historical students of the period with a source for
stud5dng the conservative attitude to the happenings of that time.
Latterly it enjoyed some circulation furth of Scotland and was increased
in size. A hst of Mr. Wright’s other publications is given in Scott’s
Annals of the Original Secession Church.
In 1865 the congregation presented a unanimous call to the Associate
Presbytery addressed to Mr. Duncan Wright, a son of Rev. James Wright,
to become colleague and successor to the latter, signed by about 200 per-
sons, and this being sustained, he was ordained and inducted on 26th
October, 1865. In 1869 Rev. Duncan Wright requested leave of absence
on the grounds of ill-health supported by two medical certificates, and
undertook a voyage to Australia. Two years later he returned, but de-
clined to resume ministerial functions for reasons given to the Presbytery,
but not made public, and he was allowed to resign his colleagueship. He
remained, however, in membership of Lauriston Street Church till his death.2
In the following years certain charges were made against Rev. James
Wright, now again sole pastor, on account of which, it was alleged, persons
were withdrawing from the congregation. This culminated on 27th
September, 1873, in the addressing of a letter to Mr. Wright signed by
ten members of Session. “Under a sincere desire for the honour and
purity of the Church,” they pressed on the minister the urgent necessity
of taking such steps as should at once lead to an immediate discovery of
the truth. On 2nd October following Mr. Wright replied that without
1 Communicated by Mr. John McLeod. '
2 Lauriston Street Session Minutes.
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
prejudice of his Presbyterial rights, being in providence the only ordained
minister of the Original Secession Church, he had no objection to accom-
panying any aged and experienced member of their number to his accusers
so as to give and receive explanations that might allay suspicion. This
not being considered satisfactory by the ten members of Session, on
the ground that the charges existed in writing as distinct from mere
suspicion, they intimated to Mr. Wright that until he emerged from the
painful position in which he was placed, they could not act as a Session
with him as Moderator.
At a meeting of Session subsequently held Mr. Wright tendered a
solemn oath denying the charges laid against him. It was then stated by
Mr. Wright’s supporters that “As an oath putteth an end to all strife,
and Mr. Wright having denied all knowledge as to the things laid to his
charge, we were not in a position to take further steps in regard to him.”
The complainers, however, were not prepared to let the matter rest here,
particularly as Mr. Wright subsequently stated that the parties making
the allegation were not to be dealt with as slanderers, and is alleged to
have admitted they had grounds for what they said. (“Appendix, con-
taining notes on the Testimony, 1827, and a plain Statement of Facts
shewing the cause of the separation from Mr. James Wright, Minister of
Lauriston Street Congregation, by a majority of the members of his
Session and a considerable number of the congregation,” a pamphlet
dated Edinburgh, 28th May, 1874, 32 pp., published by the party with-
drawing at this time, at p. 27.)
On ist December a paper was sent to Mr. Wright, signatures to which
had been received by a committee, “Suggested and requested by several
members of the Congregation.” This was a request to Mr. Wright to
resign his ministerial duties in the event of his not clearing himself of the
Jama. It was stated in the document that of say, sixty four visited, fifty
four had given their names, this first number being “about half the
congregation.” To quote the pamphlet mentioned above, which is not,
of course, an independent document, “All peace being now at an end,
and little else heard from the pulpit but discourses in self-defence, a de-
claration and protest was drawn up, and, there being no other way of
obtaining a hearing, it was agreed that the same should be read at the
foot of the pulpit steps in presence of the congregation after divine services
were over,” which was accordingly done on the afternoon of Sabbath,
14th December, 1873, this including the following sentences, “Because in a
mysterious providence the Church being so reduced we have no competent
Court for the trial of our Pastor, and having taken all the means warranted,
by the Word of God and our standards, either to bring the matter to a
favourable issue or persuade him to resign. And whereas (the charges
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
against Mr. Wright) are a source of stumbling to many and have been
the means of thinning our numbers from year to year therefore, we
office-bearers and numbers of the said Lauriston Original Secession Church,
in retiring from under the ministry of the said James Wright as our only
alternative we now do disclaim all imputations of rending the Church
but leave the responsibility of that upon our said pastor.” This document
bore the signatures of two elders, two deacons, and two members. The
protestors and their followers then left to form the Forrest Road Original
Secession Congregation. It may be added that three elders adhered to
Mr. Wright at this time.*
Shortly after this breach, a second colleague to Mr. Wright was called
in the person of Mr. Walter McLeod, who had been licensed to preach by
the Associate Presbytery on i6th October, 1871. Mr. McLeod had been a
teacher in Canongate Parochial School and later, being connected with the
Free Church of Scotland, acted as their missionary and schoolmaster to
an English Speaking Community at Landernan, Normandy. Returning to
Scotland, he attended Lauriston Street Church, became convinced of the
correctness of Mr. Wright’s doctrinal and denominational standpoint, and
commenced studies for the ministry. On a memorial presented to the
Associate Presbytery by a deputation of the congregation, it was agreed
to give him a call, which was accepted on 13th April, 1874, and he was
ordained on 23rd April, 1874.2
As Mr. McLeod was the last of those receiving his theological training
at the hands of Rev. James Wright, it is perhaps fit to record a brief note
on the Divinity HaU which Mr. Wright conducted and a list of the students
who attended, which I have not seen recorded in any other work. The
system of tuition took the form of a series of lectures on the scriptural
doctrines and the manner of treating them.
Rev. David Berry, later of Dundee - - -
Rev. Duncan Wright, of Lauriston Street Church
Rev. Walter McLeod, of Lauriston Street Church
Rev. William Scott, later of South Clerk Street
Church, Edinburgh . _ . . _
Rev. Henry Paton, later of Gorgie Road Associate
Original Secession Church _ - - -
Andrew Ritchie, of Lauriston Street Church,
licensed as a Preacher on 22nd June, 1863 :
Dates of Attending
Grad. M.A. 1880
1 Lauriston Street Session Minutes.
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
It is impossible at this date to give the years when the above students
attended for training. It is known that these lectures were also attended
by hearers from the congregation.
About i860 an endeavour was made to secure a hall where the students
could conduct a mission. After mention in the Session Minutes from time
to time the project was allowed to drop.
In 1862, Rev. John Tyndal, a Free Church Probationer, whose up-
bringing had been in the Original Burgher Synod which entered the
Church of Scotland in 1839, who had “ come out ” at the Disruption,
became attached to the Associate Presbytery, and occasionally occupied
the Lauriston Street pulpit. He was dis-satisfied at the caU presented to
Rev. Duncan Wright, and, on 19th October, 1868, he was excluded from
membership. He then preached in a hall for a time to a small number of
supporters, and in 1873, joined those who then separated from Rev. Mr.
Wright. About eight years later he was admitted to the United Original
Secession Church and was employed as a salaried preacher to the vacant
charges in that denomination.
Mr. Wright died at Edinburgh on 24th February, 1878, a year earlier
than stated in Scott’s Annals, in the 76th year of his age and 49th of
his ministry. He is buried in St. Cuthbert’s Churchyard. From his writings
he was obviously a man of marked ability, and the isolation and dis-
affection which marked his later years are thus the more to be regretted.
Descendants of Mr. Wright are still in Membership of the congregation.
In 1883 Mr. McLeod published in manuscript form to the congregation
a refutation of the charges levelled against Mr. Wright ten years earUer.‘
It may be added that one elder and one deacon seceding in 1873 after-
wards returned, and that Mr. Wright’s ministry was remembered tenderly
and thankfully by the disaffected party at the breach on the occasion of a
meeting held on 19th November, 1879, in South Clerk Street Church.^
Rev. Walter McLeod enjoyed a peaceful ministry lasting for 34 years
after the decease of Mr. Wright. He delivered special lecture referring to
the Franchise, The Peace Conference at the Hague, and the Union of
the Churches in 1900. For many years he conducted three diets of worship
every Sabbath, and at his evening services, when dealing with matters of
Scottish Church History, a frequent auditor was Dr. Hay Fleming, the
An important incident during Mr. McLeod’s ministry was the re-
issuing in 1896 of an edition of the (Anti-Burgher) Testimony of 1827
(Edinburgh, Richard Cameron, 1896). To quote the foreword, “This
reprint of the testimony is issued by the Session of the Original Secession
1 Communicated by Mr. John McLeod
^ South Clerk Street Records — Notes by Rev. H. Paton, M.A.
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
Church, Lauriston Street, Edinburgh, constituted in the way of main-
taining the principles therein witnessed for . . . it is not surprising that
these doctrines are by the majority practically disowned. This, however,
does not effect their truth, nor lessen the obligation of those who have
professed them. Desertion, on however large a scale, does not make a
good cause bad.”
Mr. McLeod died, much regretted by his congregation, at Edinburgh
on i2th October, 1912, in the 8ist year of his age and 41st year of his
ministry. He is buried in Newington Cemetery. He left a Paper, drawn
up by himself in expectation of his death, containing considerations for
the church and her members on the occasion of their being deprived of a
minister, and admonishing them faithfully to adhere to their profession
and to be diligent and prayerful in attending on all Services till the Lord
gave them another pastor after his own heart. This paper was read after
the ordinary services on the second Sabbath after his death and was
received by the congregation with much appreciation.
Mr. McLeod was author of (i) John Brown of Priesthill, a Booklet
for the Young in the "Scottish Mart5u:s Series,” published in 1858 ;
(2) The Synod and the West Kirk Images, a pamphlet reviewing the pro-
ceedings of the Synod of Lothian and Tweedale concerning a petition
praying for the removal of certain images and decorations of a popish
character in the West Kirk of Edinburgh commonly called St. Cuthbert’s
Church. This is signed "A Friend of the Church,” and is dated,
" Edinburgh, 15th November, 1906;” (3) A number of articles in the Ark,
the periodical previously referred to.
Although a fund was raised to encourage any young man who inclined
towards the ministry, Mr. McLeod has had no successor in the pulpit in
Lauriston Street, and no communion services have been held since his
death, nor has any minister occupied the pulpit. Two diets of worship
have, however, been maintained since 1912, and these are now held at
II a.m. and 3 p.m. At first, after Rev. Walter McLeod’s death, several
elders shared the duties of preaching, but they are now entirely undertaken
by Mr. John McLeod, Session Clerk, son of the last minister. Several
accessions have taken place since the death of Rev. Walter McLeod. ^
Despite the long vacancy, the spreading of the town, and many other
difficulties, a congregation of some twenty-five continues to attend at the
Church, when the service is surely more in keeping with that of early
seceders than in any other place of worship now existing. The Praise,
led by a Precentor, usually consists at each service of three portions
selected from one psalm. In summer months a Church History class is
conducted in mid-week when lectures by Rev. J. Wright, Rev. W. McLeod,
1 Communicated by Mr. John McLeod.
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
and Mr. John McLeod are read by the latter. This activity dates back to
the days of Mr. Wright and is intended for and attended by young and
old, the attendance usually exceeding a dozen.
Shortly before this war the area in which their Church is situated was
earmarked for demolition, and a prospect arose of the congregation being
removed to other premises. On a plebiscite, the people were found to be
divided regarding the suitability of a building site offered in recompense
of their present church, and the outbreak of war delayed for the present
the necessity of a decision. There exists, therefore, a chance that yet a
new place of worship may be built and occupied by the congregation,
which might have far-reaching effects on their prospects of survival.
Lauriston Street Church can claim a long Secession pedigree, and the
Congregation’s record of having existed for 95 years, independent of any
properly constituted court superior to their Kirk Session, is unique in the
annals of Scottish Church History.
Elders are now ordained on behalf of the Session by Mr. John McLeod,
and the last question (No. XII) of the Formula remains unaltered as it
has stood since drafted by the First Anti-Burghers at the Split of 1747 ;
“ Do you acknowledge and promise subjection to the Session
of this Congregation as presently constituted in a way of testifying
against the sinful management of the prevailing party in the Sjmod
at some of the first diets of their meeting at Edinburgh in April,
1747 : And do you approve of, and purpose to adhere to, and
maintain, the said testimony, in your station and capacity ; and
do you approve of, and purpose to adhere to, and maintain the
Sentence of Synod in April, 1746, concerning the religious clause
of some burgess oaths, and that in opposition to all tenets and
practices to the contrary ? ”
This question is now in use in no other congregation.
The Token of this congregation reads —
“Associate Congregan” 1821
and on the reverse side —
“Geo. Paxton, Minister, Edinburgh.”
FORREST ROAD ORIGINAL SECESSION CHURCH
(later South Ci,erk Street Original Secession Church)
AND ITS OFF-SHOOTS
Those withdrawing from Lauriston Street Church after 14th December,
1873, convened the following and subsequent Sabbaths in the Oddfellows
Hall, Forrest Road. Apparently, immediately after their secession from
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
Mr. Wright’s ministry, they got into communication with Rev. Andrew
Lambie of Pitcairngreen, who had now been out of communion with their
former pastor for almost a quarter of a century. Several conferences
followed between Mr. Lambie and the former Lauriston Street Office-
Bearers, and he and they finally expressed agreement in (a) holding the
Associate (Anti-Burgher) Testimony of 1827 in the manner declared in
the notes agreed on by the Associate Session of Bridgeton, Almond Bank
(formerly of Pitcairngreen) ; (b) that they approved of the withdrawal of
the Pitcairngreen Congregation from Communion with Rev. James Wright
of Edinburgh in 1850 on the grounds stated in these notes. The Edinburgh
office-bearers therefore called on Mr. Lambie “As minister to remnant of
Original Seceders” to constitute themselves as a Session, with him as
Moderator for the time.i Mr. Lambie thus became minister-in-charge of
the congregation and soon afterwards removed to Edinburgh, visiting
Pitcairngreen frequently to continue his duties there. In his absence
from Edinburgh prayer meetings were conducted by the elders. An
important incident in the history of this congregation was the solemn
renewal of the Covenants at Forrest Road on 28th October, 1875, a half-
yearly Fast Day when, after Mr. Lambie had conducted Divine Service
in the forenoon, preaching from Acts xi, 23, thi Covenanting was proceeded
with in the afternoon, the bond being subscribed by fifty-five persons in all.
Until 1876, the association between the congregation and Mr. Lambie
was of a happy nature. Commencing in that year, however, an unfortunate
dispute arose between minister and people on a point which can now only
be regarded as an unimportant one. This was the objection taken by Mr.
Lambie to the holding of Congregational Meetings to discuss the affairs
of the church ; which assemblies he decried as savouring of rebellion,
treachery, apostacy, innovation, a violation of scripture, independency in
bud and principle, and finally declared them to be, “ Sinful, both root
and branch of them.” On this question a pamphlet, “Reformation
Principles Vindicated, or a defence of congregational meetings and the
position of the Remnant of Original Seceders pointed out by their Appen-
dix to the 1827 Testimony,” by William Scott (afterwards minister of
the congregation) (Edinburgh, James Gemmell, 1878), was published on
behalf of those opposed to Mr. Lambie in the first part of which the author
in scholarly fashion traced the history of these gatherings from the days of
The First Book of Discipline. This is really an excellent historical study,
and one can only regret the devoting of the author’s talents to an un-
important end, judged by modern standards. In the second part, he
expresses doubts as to the competency of the Notes to the Testimony of
1827 drawn up by the Almondbank Session as being an act outwith the
1 “ Appendix, Containing Notes on The Testimony of 1827,” previously quoted.
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
jurisdiction of a Kirk Session, a feeling which" was, apparently, growing
amongst the Forrest Road Congregation. Here Mr. Scott says, “The
designation we have taken is that of a remnant. We have no courts
superior to a Kirk Session. Nevertheless, if we keep the attainments we
have inherited, we are the Church of God, and his witnessing people."
To the first part, Mr. Lambie replied in an undated pamphlet entitled
“ Letter to Remnant of Original Seceders ” (Edinburgh, James Gemmell).
Mr. Scott later published a duplicated paper replying to a statement
from the pulpit by Mr. Lambie on the subject on 5th January, 1879.
These matters were debated at many meetings of Session, and finally at
one of these held on 22nd April, 1879, Mr. Lambie intimated his resigna-
tion ; his subsequent history and that of his followers being told later.
In fairness, however, I may say that the foregoing paragraph is drawn up
from sources unsympathetic to Mr. Lambie : whose supporters alleged
that the root of the trouble was his refusal to ordain Mr. Scott single-
Shortly after, an opportunity arose for the acquisition by the congrega-
tion of a building eminently suited to their purposes which had an earlier
Secession history. Here the congregation of Rev. Archibald Brown had
worshipped from 1871 until 'the minister became incapacitated in 1878.
At first, the proposal made was that this and the Forrest Road congrega-
tion unite, but the two small groups found that the question of the Burgess
Oath stood in the way of union, the former Forrest Road congregation
demanding that Mr. Brown's people first admit that the swearing of the
Burgess Oath had been sinful. This they refused to do. However, in the
summer of 1879, the Forrest Road Congregation moved as tenants to
these premises, which are rather unique, being situated at the rear of an
ordinary Edinburgh tenement No. 52 (formerly 36) South Clerk Street,
access being gained by an ordinary entry, and the actual Church or Hall
being situated on the garden ground behind. The size is 42 feet long by
20 feet broad, making it a very suitable meeting house for a small congrega-
tion, seating being provided for 150 persons.*
Soon afterwards, it was agreed that Mr. William Scott deliver trial
discourses with a view to a call being made out to him to become minister
of the congregation. After three of these had been delivered, at a meeting
of the congregation held on 19th November, 1879, Mr. Scott was called
on the motion of Mr. James Paton, Elder.^
Mr. Scott, like them, came originally from Lauriston Street Congrega-
tion. He at first was reluctant to accept the call, his uncertain health,
which later became manifest, perhaps being the reason. In face of the
1 Closed Record : Anderson and Others v. Lyon and Others.
2 Notes by Rev. Henry Paton, M.A.
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
congregation, however, he’ was solemnly charged by the elders not to
hold back, and finally intimated his acceptance, undertaking the charge
of the congregation accompanied by fasting and prayer on the part of the
people. Mr. Scott, of course, did not receive Ordination, and was accused
later in a newspaper correspondence of having “vaulted irregularly into
On 19th March, 1880, a “Declaratory Statement” was published
(duplicated) by the Session on the subject of Mr. Lambie’s “Appendix to
the Testimony of 1827.” This matter had been under discussion by them
at two sederunts, and the Court found that the Appendix was “Informal
both in form and design ; that it had never been judicially enacted, and
consequently can be of no force nor authority or standing in the Church.”
They also called on the members of the congregation to “Mourn over the
above steps of defection, as they themselves desire to do, and to implore
forgiveness of their sin” in countenancing the publication from 1874 until
In 1881, this congregation became the possessors of an excellent
librar}^ — the gift of Mr. John Angus, senior elder. The printed catalogue,
comprising Biblical and Biographical works. Commentaries, Histories,
Sermons, and Pamphlets runs to 27 pages.
South Clerk Street Session issued certain printed addresses and acts
to the congregation under their charge. An address, dated 26th July,
1883, was issued “To endeavour to stir up the people to a right im-
pression of the Fast which they have appointed.” Included in a
“ Flood of errors in doctrine ” noted are the restoration of St. Giles
Cathedral, the apeing by the established Church of the Episcopalian
bodies, the bringing of the inventions of men into the sanctuary, and the
bringing of religion to ridicule by such organisations as the Salvation
Army. An “Act for a congregational Fast,” published on 22nd January,
1888, is framed in a sombre note : “ God has recently been diminishing
our already small number by death. Beside the deaths . . . there has
been a large amount of sickness in the congregation.” Regret is also
expressed that the young showed no disposition to take the place of the
fathers in the church. A second Act for a Fast, dated 6th February, 1900,
refers with gratitude to the “Attempts at faithfulness to God . . . made
upon the part of several ministers and a considerable body of the people
of the Free Church of Scotland in lifting up the banner of truth and a
testimony against error in many particulars.” This also states, “ (God)
has given us to be reduced in number by death and defection until we are
now in number very few, while he has not been adding to our number.”
The membership was then about 20.
1 Christian Leader, Dec. 1883, Jan. 1884.
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
The peace of this congregation was again disturbed, however, within
a few years of Mr. Scott’s Settlement and its promise arrested in unhappy
fashion. As early as 1885 complaint was made at a meeting of office-
bearers regarding the unpunctuality of the commencement of Sabbath
services ; these, it was alleged, frequently started an average of three
quarters of an hour late. The reason for this was the feeble and uncertain
health of Mr. Scott, the Minister. Five years later, in March, 1890, no
improvement having been made, a deacon presented a paper on the
subject to the Session, but believing the representation of matters in the
congregation would induce the Session to take the matter up, he withdrew
it. Another year passing without change, however, he again presented
his paper. The petitioner stated inter alia that on account of the tedious
waiting, the congregation actually viewed with regret and dismay the
occasional appearance of any strangers in their midst. The petition
resulted in some disaffection and threatened an immediate disruption of
the congregation. Consequently the petitioner again withdrew his paper
on the understanding that improvement would be accomplished within
the ensuing year.
As time passed with no improvement yet resulting, a number of
members resolved to make a further representation on the matter to the
session stating: “ The protracted waitings are most trying to flesh and
blood, and the apparent helplessness of reformation renders the position
wellnigh unendurable. The ordinances are in a great measure rendered
ineffectual ; the benefits of the Sabbath lost, and spiritual life almost
destroyed . . . and unless a speedy remedy be applied the result will be
the upbreaking and dispersion of the congregation.”
The reply of the Session to this representation is dated 8th January,
1892, and included the following passages : “ The Session desire to remind
the subscribers that any failure in keeping these hours, so far as the minister
is concerned, is due to God’s afflicting hand being upon him, and through
him on the congregation. The Court feel that the congregation is liable
to overlook the fact that the affliction is a congregational one, and that
it calls the people, and the congregation as such, to search and see why
God is thus dealing with them. . . . They in the meantime recommend
the subscribers of the representation to exercise a little more patience,
when they think that in a short time, in God’s good providence, better
things in this respect may emerge.”
This reply is said to have been the work of the minister himself.
The Representers being much dissatisfied with the Session’s reply
lodged a further representation at some length on the subject, from which
one paragraph may be quoted : ” But, further, the representers cannot
but be of the opinion that had the Session been really desirous to find a
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
remedy, they had not so far to seek for such a remedy. They feel bound to
remind them that on the last occasion the congregation was left without
a minister, the Session then acknowledged as a Divine mercy that in the
providence of God, not only our present Pastor, but at least one other
young man in the congregation were so far advanced with studies as to
be eligible for a call to the ministry. After the selection of our present
Pastor, the other still continued to be and still is connected with the
congregation.” The young man referred to was Mr. Henry Paton, whom
we meet next under the heading of ‘‘Associate Congregation of Original
Seceders, Gorgie Road.” This representation was returned unanswered,
and, as a consequence, to quote, ‘‘ The True Cause of the separation
from the Kirk Session of Original Seceders worshipping at 36 South Clerk
Street, Edinburgh, which took place on 17th April, 1892,” a i6-pp.
pamphlet printed by the Darien Press, Bristo Place, Edinburgh, from
which these particulars are reproduced, ‘‘ (as) the congregation was
divided against itself . . . with no immediate hope of the restoration of
amicable relations, in the interests of the public cause and also to secure
the edification of their own souls and the souls of those intrusted to them
in the use of such ordinanaces as God might give them,” a protest signed
by four members was read in front of the pulpit on 17th April, 1892,
after which the protestors and their supporters withdrew to found a new
The loss of these members weakened greatly the South Clerk Street
cause, which congregation is understood never to have exceeded a member-
ship of thirty-five. In 1912 the average attendance was twelve ; in
that year, however, a few persons who had been aggrieved with the
attitude adopted by the United Original Secession Synod to the Deceased
Wife’s Sister Act in 1910 left Victoria Terrace United Original Secession
Church for South Clerk Street. They did not long remain in membership,
however, and in the last years only some half-dozen members remained.
Mr. Scott died at Edinburgh on ist January, 1926, in the 79th year of
his age and 46th of his ministry, and is buried in Newington Cemetery.
To the last his health rendered punctual commencement of the services
uncertain. His published writings comprise only the pamphlet and
Remarks referred to earlier, but for several years he assisted Sir WiUiam
Fraser in the preparation of his Family Histories. Some who were not
his supporters recall him as a sound evangelical preacher. His brother.
Rev. Walter Scott, who died in 1916, was minister to the Free Presbyterian
Groups in Ontario. ^
Until 1912 the congregation in maintaining its testimony against any
1 History of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Glasgow, 1933 ; and
Communication by Mr. A. W. Dickson, Edinburgh.
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
innovation in worship continued the custom of “reading the line” in
psalmody, although latterly two lines were read together instead of one.
The old custom was then abolished, this surely being the last non-gaelic
congregation in Scotland to adhere to it.*
After Mr. Scott’s death the few remaining members held Sabbath
afternoon Devotional meetings for a period of about five years in a house
in Warrender Park Road. At the dissolution the library, previously
referred to, was handed over to the Edinburgh Free Presbyterian congrega-
tion.2 The Church building was previously sold on 31st May, 1926, to
a congregation of Jews, but is now occupied as an Evangelical Church.
The Communion token of this congregation reads —
"Associate Congregation of Original Seceders”
and on the reverse —
“Edinburgh, 1880. Wm. Scott.”
(Second) FORREST ROAD ORIGINAL SECESSION CHURCH.
“ Mr. Lambie intends to preach if the Lord will on Thursday as usual
in the Oddfellows Hall under the same banner.” This notice was issued
to a number of members of the Forrest Road Congregation by Charles
Martin, late Session Clerk to that congregation, .on the evening of 22nd
April, 1879, after Mr. Lambie had separated from his late Session, and
for a short time, until the former congregation removed to their new abode
at South Clerk Street, the two sections met in different rooms under the
Mr. Scott in his Annals gives the attendance on 9th January, 1882,
as “probably 20.” One member of session, in addition to Mr. Martin,
who was Mr. Lambie’s son-in-law, adhered to the minister, who was now
growing old. On 23rd October, 1879, George Lebrun was ordained an
elder, and John Horn a deacon ; the ordinations being carried out at a
meeting of Session between the diets of worship on that date, a Fast Day.**
Mr. Lambie continued to minister to his small number of adherents
in Edinburgh, as well as the remnant in Pitcairngreen, till his death in
Edinburgh on 23rd May, 1886, in the 87th year of his age and 58th of his
^ Communicated by Messrs. James A. McLeod and A. W. Dickson.
Communicated by Mr. James A. McLeod.
Note by Rev. Henry Paton, M.A.
^ Session Book belonging to the Associate Anti-Burgher congregation, Pitcairn-
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
ministry. He is buried in Redgorton Churchyard. As well as his published
works mentioned, he was the author of The Bible, the World’s Age ;
The Old Paths ; Divisive Courses (Perth, C. G. Sidey, 1867).
The Forrest Road group did not altogether cease with his death.
So late as 1898 the survivors, now numbering on occasions up to 16, but
usually about 6, continued to meet when the services were conducted by
Mr. Charles Martin, in whose house they met from 1898, after the group
left Forrest Road. Mr. Martin, who was a Librarian in Edinburgh Univer-
sity, died late in 1902, and the remaining adherents, principally members
of his family, then joined other communions.
At Communion Services this congregation used Pitcaimgreen tokens.
The records were destroyed some years ago.*
ASSOCIATE CONGREGATION OF ORIGINAL SECEDERS
When the Protestors of 1892 withdrew from South Clerk Street Church
they foregathered on the succeeding Sabbaths in the Oddfellows’ Hall,
Forrest Road, where for a period of six months a prayer meeting was
conducted, sermons and discourses being read from orthodox preachers.
Endeavours were made during this period to heal the breach with their
former brethren, but without avail ; they then published the pamphlet.
The True Cause of the Separation from the Kirk-Session of Original
Seceders worshipping at 36 South Clerk Street, Edinburgh, previously
referred to. Herein a full narrative of the protestors’ conduct is given,
and the papers framed by them printed in full. It was now felt that,
when they had the means of obtaining public ordinances, they should
no longer continue to meet in the fashion first adopted. Accordingly,
at a meeting held on 23rd November, 1892, they requested one of their
number, Mr. Henry Paton, M.A., who had studied at Edinburgh Uni-
versity at the request of the South Clerk Street Congregation, and who
had attended the theological lectures conducted by the Rev. James
Wright, all with a view to entering the work of the ministry, to deliver
trial discourses for a number of Sabbaths. These were sustained, and on
nth January, 1893, a call was placed in his hands reading, “ We, the
undersigned members and adherents of the Associate Congregation of
Original Seceders, presently worshipping in the Oddfellows Hall, Forrest
Road, Edinburgh, being presently destitute of a pastor . . . and consider-
1 Communicated by Miss I. H. Martin, M.A., Edinburgh. •
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
ing that though on account of the sinful defections of these times we are
destitute of lawful church courts to which we can apply for the provision
of a Pastor in the ordinary way, we are notwithstanding fully warranted
by scripture and the practice of the church in former times when in like
circumstances to call one to be our Pastor.” The names of one elder and
eight members were appended. Mr. Paton accepted the caU, and on 29th
January, 1893, dispensed ordinances for the first time. At a congregational
meeting held on ist February two elders and a deacon were chosen and the
regular presbyterian procedure followed regarding edict election and
ordination. 1 There were thus in Edinburgh now four daughter congrega-
tions of Lauriston Street Anti-Burger Church — one in connection with the
U. O. S. Synod and three Independent Anti-Burgher congregations ;
three Anti-Burgher ministers — Messrs. McLeod, Paton, and Scott —
labouring in the city. In addition, the Pitcaimgreen remnant survived.
In July, 1893, Mr. Paton issued an address. To the Members and Adherents
of the Original Secession Church in Edinburgh (10 pp.). This pamphlet
was an appeal to the various congregations of Seceders to enter on a
Conference or Conferences with a view to healing the unhappy divisions
existing among them. "Amidst the ecclesiastical anarchy and confusion
which prevail on all hands (the author wrote) the Secession is silent as
the grave. She dare not uplift the voice lest it should return with the
echo of mockery and ridicule. Truth to say. Brethren, our divisions are at
once our sin, our reproach, and our weakness.” No tangible result arose
from this appeal, but Mr. Baton’s congregation made a further effort in
December, 1894, by the publication of a Letter to Original Seceders in
Edinburgh upon their divided condition (4 pp.) to promote a conference of
these isolated congregations with a view to removing the causes of the
dissensions between them ; this also had a fruitless reception.
When it was apparent no reunion was likely, the congregation con-
templated for a time the erection of a church, but owing to high building
costs this plan was abandoned. An opportunity arose, however, for the
acquisition by them of a Free Church Mission Hall situated in Gorgie
Road. After renovation the building was opened as a church on 21st
November, 1897, when Mr. Paton conducted three diets of worship,
public intimation being made in the press and by handbills distributed in
the district. At this stage of the congregation’s history the membership
had risen to 21, and eleven children were baptised in the period ending
1903. Many activities, in addition to the regular Sabbath Services, were
conducted to cater for young and old. Amongst the former an aggressive
work was undertaken including the formation of a Sabbath School
attended by fifty children. A Bible Class, Prayer Meeting, and Psalmody
i Communicated by Mr. Henry M. Paton.
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
Class were the chief agencies amongst the adult members and adherents.
An interesting point regarding the church building was the fact that it was
the last church opened in connection with the Secession, and may remain
so for aU time.
The next milestone in the congregational history resulted from a visit
paid by Mr. Paton as a delegate to the famous Psalm Singers Conference
held in Belfast in 1902. There he made the acquaintance of the late Dr.
Kerr of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, whom he invited to come to
Edinburgh to address the Gorgie Road Congregation on the distinctive
tenets of the Reformed Presbyterian and Original Secession Churches.
Dr. Kerr fulfilled this mission on 6th September, 1902. Resulting from his
visit a petition to the Reformed Presbyteries of Glasgow and Edinburgh
was drawn up on 26th of the same month, craving, on behalf of Mr.
Paton’s Congregation, admission to the Reformed Presbyterian Church ;
the same destination, it will be remembered, to which Rev. David Berry
and his congregation found their way over half a century earlier.
At a special meeting of the Joint Presbyteries held at Glasgow on
17th October, Rev. Mr. Paton and two elders presented the application.
The Court expressed its pleasure at the petition, and appointed a com-
mittee to meet the members of the congregation, with the result that a
" Thoroughly satisfactory report ” was presented at the following meeting
of the Presbyteries. The case finally came before the Reformed Presby-
terian Synod on 12th May, 1903, in Nicholson Street Church, Glasgow.
The decision of the Court in approving of the petition is interesting in
relation to the fact that Mr. Paton had never received ordination.
“ On Synod’s taking up the matter of the petition from the Associate
Congregation of Original Seceders, Edinburgh, it was moved by Rev.
J. P. Struthers, seconded by Mr. John McDonald, and agreed to, that we
resolve to receive and admit the said congregation into full communion
and fellowship with the Church. . . . The Synod wishes to place on record
the fact that Mr. Paton was not ordained on his taking at the unanimous
request and call of the people the pastoral care of the congregation. Such
ordination was impossible in the circumstances as there was no presbytery
with which the congregation had any connection. The minister and
congregation were not and are not chargeable with any lawful neglect of
Presbyterial order ... in exceptional circumstances and times, as at the
period of the Reformation, men have been asked to undertake the ministra-
tion of Word and Sacraments when ordination was impossible. The
Synod therefore willingly recognises the position of Mr. Paton as a minister
of the Gospel of Christ, and cordially sustains and endorses the action
of his people and himself. A Commission of Synod was then appointed
1 Reformed Presbyterian Synod Minutes.
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
to proceed with the admission of the minister and congregation into the
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
The Commission duly met with Mr. Paton and his congregation
in Gorgie Road Church on Friday, 22nd May, 1903, when the Modera-
tor and other members of the Commission gave the right hand of fellow-
ship to Mr. Paton and the office-bearers and members of Gorgie Road
Church and admitted them to full communion with the Reformed Presby-
terian Church of Scotland.
The membership of the congregation, however, never rose much over
21, and owing to a variety of causes, including withdrawals and lack of
support from the Reformed Presbyterians in Edinburgh district, it was
decided early in 1907 to close the Church, and in March of that year the
building was sold to the Baptists, the last services being held on the 24th
of that month. It is now occupied as a War Memorial Hall, but much
altered. No formal dissolution of the congregation ever took place, and
Rev. Mr. Paton and members of his family betook themselves to Loanhead
Reformed Presbyterian Church.
After the admission to the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Gorgie
Road congregation Mr. Paton took a full share of the duties incumbent
on Synod members, acting amongst other appointments as Moderator of
S5mod and Moderator of the Joint Presbyteries. Following the closing of
the Edinburgh Church he frequently supplied vacant Reformed Presby-
terian pulpits. Mr. Paton also represented the Reformed Presbyterian
Church at their American S3mod in Chicago in May, 1909, and attended
the Pan-Presbyterian Council at New York in June ; while in September,
1911, he was their representative at the Pan-Presbyterian Council in
Buda-Pesth. In the world of Scots letters he has left many monuments, to
mention only a few, his editorship of Register of the Privy Council of
Scotland, The Lyon in Mourning, The Baptismal Register of Rev. fohn
McMillan, Greyfriars Interments, and numerous other historical works.
He also acted as Inspector and Reporter for Scotland of the Royal Com-
mission on Historical MSS., and like Rev. Wm. Scott assisted Sir William
Fraser in the preparation of his Family Histories for several years.
Mr. Paton died at Peebles as recently as 25th February, 1942, in the
88th year of his age and 49th of his ministry. Until a year previous to
his death he retained his connection with the Reformed Presbyterian
S3mod. A son, Mr. Henry M. Paton, it is interesting to note, retains the
Secession connection of his family and acts as Convener of the Original
Secession Synod's Mutual Assistance Fund Committee.
The token struck by Gorgie Road Congregation bears the inscription :
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
and on the reverse :
The records of Gorgie Road Church are now in the possession of Mr.
Henry M. Baton.
A LEGAL ACTION.
There falls to be noticed an interesting legal action in which certain
of the later Anti-Burghers were concerned. This is a “ Reported Case ’’
and is known to lawyers as Anderson’s Trustees v. Scott, 1914, S.C., at
To understand the case, we must cast our minds back to the formation
of the United Original Secession Synod in 1842. It will be recalled that of
Mr. Wright’s congregation in Edinburgh, a number adhered to the Synod.
These formed a congregation and built a church in Adam Square, Edin-
burgh. On 24th May, 1843, Rev. Archd. Brown was inducted as Pastor ;
while a devout and generous man, he proved a thorn in the flesh to the
Synod on account of his attitude towards a decision of that Court to permit
the formation of Sabbath Schools in their congregations. Mr. Brown re-
garded this decision as an encroachment on the function of office-bearers
and heads of families as instructors of the young, and contended that the
innovation had no scriptural authority. These views he vigorously ex-
pressed in a pamphlet. Revival of Family Worship in opposition to the
Sabbath School System (1857), which finally led to his suspension by the
Synod on 26th May, 1858. It is not too much to say that the various
representations, appeals, overtures, and finally libels ensuing out of Mr.
Brown’s attitude on this question may have seriously retarded the initial
growth of the Minority United Original Secession Synod after the union
of the Majority with the Free Church in 1852, as for the 3 years prior
to his suspension, the matter was discussed at no less than 39 sederunts
of the Synod — ^in many instances no other business being dealt with —
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
necessitating frequent sittings of the Court, causing great weariness, trial,
and expense to the members intent on the consolidation and improvement
of the position of that church.
After his suspension, Mr. Brown's congregation sub-divided ; part
adhered to him, ^nd part formed what is now Victoria Terrace United
Original Secession Church. In 1870 the church in Adam Square was sold
to Edinburgh Improvement Commissioners : Mr. Brown and his supporters
now purchased for the sum of ;^^i,ioo the church in South Clerk Street
previously referred to as being occupied by Mr. Scott’s congregation, a
house above which (used for a manse) being included in the price. About
1876 Mr. Brown became incapacitated through ill-health, and for two
years afterwards services were conducted by lay-members. On 28th July,
1878, the church was finally closed, the membership having declined to
five men and eight women. An endeavour was made to sell the property,
but without success. Mr. Brown died 5th February, 1879.
The property was then let by the trustees of Mr. Brown’s congregation;
the tenant of the church or hall being Mr. Scott’s congregation formerly
of Forrest Road, who obtained occupancy for a rent of £30 per annum,
reduced by degrees to £16. Finally, only one trustee qualified to act
survived, Mr. Henry Anderson. This faithful steward continued to
ingather monies due to the trust, and, at his death, on 7th May, 1912,
his trustees found that he held Deposit Receipts totalling in value
19s. and also the property previously described for behoof of the long
defunct congregation of Mr. Brown.
In these circumstances, a multiplepoinding was raised to determine
who was beneficially entitled to these assets, and claims were lodged by
(i) The United Original Secession Synod ; (2) The South Clerk Street
Congregation ; (3) The Lauriston Street Congregation ; (4) The Crown,
who argued that the Trust had failed, and the money should fall to them
as uliimus haeres.
On 24th June, 1913, the Lord Ordinary (Cullen), after considering the
relation of the various congregations to that of Mr. Brown, pronounced
an interlocutor in favour of the Crown, holding that the trust purpose had
been fulfilled. He stated in reference to the other claimants : —
“If one considers how real and vital such differences in belief
or opinion as marked Mr. Brown’s isolated congregation are to the
persons who share them, it seems to me manifest that now to devote
the funds raised by that congregation for their support to the
benefit of those from whom they differed, and by whom they were
ostracised, would be doing signal violence to the intention of the
makers of the Trust.’’
South Clerk Street congregation reclaimed, and the case was again
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS •
heard for three days before the First Division of the Court of Session.
On 15th July, 1914, the opinion of the Court was delivered by Lord
Sherrington who stated that neither the United Original Secession Synod,
South Clerk Street Congregation or Lauriston Street Congregation could
identify themselves with the congregation which was the beneficial owner
of the trust property forming the fund in medio. It appeared to the Court,
however, that the Victoria Terrace United Original Secession Congrega-
tion, which it will be recalled, sprang from Mr. Brown’s congregation,
should be given an opportunity of lodging a claim. They accordingly
repelled the claim of the Crown and remitted the case back to the Lord
The action was later settled by a Joint Minute which sustained the
Victoria Terrace Congregation’s claim, and repelled those of the remaining
claimants to the action ; but all parties were found entitled to their
expenses out of the fund in medio. It may be stated that Victoria Terrace
Church dealt generously with the others, and the South Clerk Street
Congregation was left in possession of the church building until its
In concluding this account of the last Anti-Burghers many features
present themselves to us concerning them — not all confined either to the
debit or credit side of their account.
On the debit side it must be agreed that they were contentious to a
degree and very ready to perceive the mote in the eye of their brothers.
They also exhibited a common symptom of small bodies — ecclesiastical
or political — in their many splits or secessions. It has occurred to me on
hearing of the dissensions and divisions that perhaps too many of the
members for the peace of the Church had some little legal training which
facilitated their framing Church Court papers.
On the credit side, however, must ba entered their sincerity of purpose
and loyalty to ideals and testimonies in a day when these things were
already losing their popular appeal. The personal financial sacrifices of the
members I know to have been very considerable, and this fact is more
obvious when one thinks of groups of some thirty persons maintaining
a place of worship with the incidental expenses involved. It is greatly to
the credit of those who were their ministers that they cheerfully undertook
aU their clerical duties in addition to the necessity of earning a living at
some secular task, the latter taking the form of literary work or historical
SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY
research. From their published writings, all the ministers exhibited
literary abilities proving their scholarship which, had they been prepared
to abandon' their distinctive principles and accept a more popular religious
code, might have won them positions of some distinction in a larger body.
To give some idea of the monetary value of their settlements in the minis-
try, I may say that Mr. Scott’s stipend in the better days of South Clerk
Street church was £45, that, at the beginning of this century another
minister was in receipt of £26 ; and that Mr. Lambie never once received
his full stipend during all his years at Pitcairngreen.
Despite this all the ministers, as will have been noted, lived to ripe
old ages and, it is to be hoped, were kept from worry regarding material
goods in their latter years. They certainly inspired deep loyalty and
affection in the hearts of some of their followers, still living to mourn
The last Anti-Burghers conserved in their small groups many of the
features of churches of a by-gone era. I have spoken of the continuance
of reading “The Line” at South Clerk Street; it may be added that
Mr. Scott wore till the end an old-fashioned ministerial white tie in
the pulpit. The various renewals of the National Covenants recorded
were later than those of any other denomination in Scotland. I have
found on inquiry that Lauriston Street Church, the sole survivor, now
allows the right of women to vote at congregational meetings, so that
the old order of a sole right in the male to vote has probably passed
for good in all Scottish Presbyterian Communions, although the vote was
confined to men until the end in Mr. Scott’s congregation, where women
were not even permitted to speak at these gatherings.
I have referred to the financial sacrifices of the members, but they made
sacrifices in other senses. Thus John Angus, an elder in Lauriston Street
and later of South Clerk Street in the eighties of last century, walked to
and from Kirkliston to Edinburgh, 16 miles in all, every Sabbath ; a
member of the former congregation from Culross crossed the Forth by
sailing boat frequently, while a couple in attendance at South Clerk
Street used to come from Burntisland on Saturday and stay over the
week-end to ensure their attendance. To-day we may smile at such
tenacity of purpose ; but have we in our generation replaced this quality
with anything that is better ?
There must also be noted the abilities both literary and in the conduct
of worship of the elders of fifty years ago, whose understanding of their
Church’s standpoint was the result of research in the writings of the
Secession fathers and in early church documents in which, I am sure,
their successors in most denominations to-day are deficient. The facility
with which members of Session could fill the pulpit in the absence of a
THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS
minister represents another feature of the ofhce-bearers of long ago which
is inherited by few to-day.
This present paper has revealed the adaptation of Church procedure
to many exceptional circumstances, and the resorting to expedients to
overcome constitutional difficulties which may offend purists in presby-
terian law. When a body becomes so small as to be technically of doubtful
legal constitution, the question arises should the end be sacrificed for a
slavish regard to legal precedent ? The last Anti-Burghers, as shown in
this paper, on several occasions answered this question in the negative.
To the last Anti-Burghers of Lauriston Street, Edinburgh, a word of
friendly encouragement must be directed : they have kept the faith ;
surely such faithful witness and contending can not have been all in vain.
A great many people have assisted me in the preparation of this paper,
and to them I must present my acknowledgments. In particular the
following (in alphabetical order) are deserving of thanks for the immense
trouble taken to search for documents and to answer queries :
Mr. John McLeod, Session Clerk of Lauriston Street Church, Edinburgh,
and Mr. Henry M. Baton, Curator of Historical Manuscripts, H.M.
Register House, Edinburgh.
The others are :
Mr. A. W. Dickson, Edinburgh.
Rev. J. Howe, Original Secession Manse, Dundee.
The Misses Harley, Edinburgh.
Rev. W. J. Moffett, B.A., Reformed Presbyterian Manse, Airdrie.
Miss I. H. Martin, M.A., Edinburgh.
Mr. Martin, Bridgeton, Almondbank.
Rev. N. McIntyre, Free Presbyterian Church, Edinburgh.
Mr. James A. McLeod (last surviving member of South Clerk Street
The Librarian, Sandeman Library, Perth.
Mrs. Logie, Huntingtowerfield, Perth.
The Registrar, Edinburgh University.
Mr. Young, Elder, Martyr’s Church, Dundee.